The invite in blue and silvery white indicated the specially conceptualized party to celebrate Aaron Tupaz Frias’ 46th birthday last Saturday, November 29, would start at 8:15 PM and so with the ever indefatigable Helen Castillo behind the wheel, Jujo Conol and me as passengers, left Jersey City an hour earlier so as not to enter the venue in dramatic fashion.
The venue, Maryann’s Woodside Events along 37th Avenue in Woodside, NY, was impressively transformed into a winter wonderland complete with metallic buntings, silvery twigs, and walls festooned with glittery lights. The high ceiling was almost concealed by hundreds of suspended blue and white balloons that induced a dreamy sight while white table covers, with fully attended detailing, gave a snowy effect especially when lights were dimmed.
If the designer’s intention was to recreate close-to-real winter wonderland by running the airconditioner to create a chilly atmosphere, then easily, he succeeded. Guests, glamorously donned in white, blue or silver, put back on their coats and winter jackets upon feeling the unbearable low temp.
Amiable Vince Gesmundo, the party planner, interior designer, and the principal mover, was to be credited for the engaging set-up. Being all agog and overly occupied entertaining guests while simultaneously attending to the needs of the service crew, it can’t be denied that Vince was truly a perfect host.
Guests close to two hundred were treated to a buffet table heavily laden with scrumptious delicacies, a variety of well-catered courses complete with two skin-crackling roast pigs (lechon), an avalanche of assorted fruits and native rice cakes for dessert.
After considering it as the total social gathering, Vince softly confided: “I don’t know why we couldn’t pull off a perfect party. Last year we forgot to pick up the lechon that’s why we have two tonight. Then, it’s too late when I realized that I failed to follow-up the delivery of the cake. Oh, what a terrible mess up!”
Instantly, he commissioned a staff to run for anything that would pass as a cake and relying on his creativity, he surely could do magic.
The birthday boy’s grand entrance was something to rave about. To the tune of a bouncy beat Aaron quietly sashayed his way to the dance floor upon announcement of his arrival while guests relentlessly cheered and clapped. With Aaron’s innate graceful movements and fluid foot works, without any doubt, the birthday celebrant was born with terpsichorean prowess.
Pinning down Aaron in an adjacent room, I tried to “dissect” and squeeze out his thoughts to fully discern the real person that he is.
Born on November 25, 1968 in Makati to Lourdes Tupaz (retired Med-Technologist) and Severio Valdez Frias (retired UN employee), Aaron is the eldest among a brood of five. He came to America, together with his siblings, in 1980 when he was barely 10 and easily planted his feet to the ground of his adopted homeland.
With the belief that he’d get better education in the Philippines, he went back home after a two-year Computer Science course from Queens Borough Community College and finished a Medical technology course from Virgen Milagrosa University Foundation in San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
Without even waiting for his diploma and credentials, Aaron flew back to the US and landed a job in Bendiner & Schlesinger, a medical laboratory in Manhattan, where he was affiliated for 5 years. Later already armed with adequate experience it was almost effortless for him to get employed at the Presbyterian Hospital where he worked from 2006 to the present.
The 5’7” quintessential Sagittarian with enormously aesthetic passion was driven to hone his singing and dancing skills by studying jazz and ballet at the School of Performing Arts in Queens. To be cast in a musical production was an ultimate dream for Aaron and the opportunity came when he passed the audition but had to beg off in lieu of his studies in the Philippines.
“Vince is unmistakably generous. He selflessly offers help even to the point when he has nothing more to give. He just can’t afford to say ‘no.’ Both of us have almost similar traits and vibes that’s why we clicked instantly,” the soulful-eyed birthday boy said in closing.
Intrigued by the obvious closeness between Aaron and Vince, I targeted the latter for an ensnare interview. Over chef salad and unsweetened iced tea at an Italian restaurant along 6th Avenue and 36th Street in Manhattan, there was no alternative for Vince but to “confess.”
“Actually, we met in one of BNP (Banal na Pag-aaral) retreat classes in Edison, NJ back in 2000,” the San Pablo City, Laguna-born and former Barangay Captain started. “We were both invited by our respective friends and I instantly felt the spark the first time I saw him.”
To stamp his mark, Vince actively participated during the bible study but that gallant move pissed off Aaron. “Aaron thought I was a show-off…and intimidating,” Vince related with clarity.
When it was Aaron’s turn to sing during the social hour, Vince was all eyes and ears in curious anticipation. The voice over had introduced Aaron thrice and the audience patiently welcomed him with thundering applause but still the supposed entertainer couldn’t start his a capella number. The reason: he forgot the opening lyrics of the Rey Valera song and merely started with its chorus then timely segued to the first part he failed to remember.
Going home, Aaron invited Vince for a ride and the long distance from Edison to Queens seemed too short for both to fully know each other.
Attraction between the two easily developed mutuality and a smooth sailing companionship unfolded. Feeling secured with renewing energy, mutual respect, and unconditional commitment coupled with the willingness to support each other emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially through thick and thin were more than enough signs of a balanced mutuality.
Mutual physical attraction has always been the basis of an emotional submission. Such veracity of mutual emotions gave way for the hearts of two newly-acquainted guys. The whirlwind connection paved the way to a sure-fire togetherness that defied all odds and impediments.
To make the story short, their first meeting turned out to be the start of a potential relationship. Together, they discovered the hidden realities of life and unleashed the facts that led to a harmonious unity despite the odds.
The unorthodox set-up that dared to quash the social norms went smoothly unmindful of what people would say. Theirs was a kind of relationship that provided strength from each other’s weakness and found solace from their every insecurity. Taboo that it may seem but what lawlessness did they commit for society to judge them? There wasn’t any social stigma malicious enough for the rightful condemnation by the guardians of morality.
The couple’s case was not an isolated one. After all, same sex relationship was known to be as old as the oldest profession which was prostitution. Many known historical figures like Socrates, Alexander the Great, Lord Byron, Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vince, Hadrian, Christopher Marlowe, and more,  were believed to have had gotten involved in such kind of correlation.
This sensitively unconventional same-sex structured affiliation had gravely fostered deep emotional bonds among a huge diversity of social classes and ethnicities regardless of creed, color, and orientation. Homoerotism and its related genre were already introduced even as early as during the propagation of cultural dominance in all parts of the world and evidently expressed through art, music, and dance.
Ignominy could be the farthest to be thought of… much less culpability to be considered as an option. As long as they don’t harm anybody and create disreputable situations, there’s nothing that could affect their mutual arrangement. In the advent of newly promulgated New York legal laws covering such unconventional relationship, the state allows and recognizes same-sex marriages and protects such cases from discrimination which makes the set-up even stronger.
In the twelve years of their blissful togetherness there were spats thrown and rocky roads treaded but each mistake taught them the proverbial well-learned lesson ‘though unnoticeably tarnishing their strappingly solid bond.
But just like what poets say that “even some good things never last…” and so was Vince and Aaron’s verboten affair. With nobody to blame and every fault ironed out, the once-upon-a-time sweet couple turned just civil friends. Communication was cut off. One was non-existent for the other. Admittedly hurting and deplorable but that was the best decision pertinent at the moment.
For nothing is permanent but change, after the wounds were healed and the pains relieved, they patched up, cleared the air, and remained just friends since.
True, the emotional attachment may not exist anymore but the past that bonded them still holds the connection. Although treading separate ways they constantly meet at the end of the road…concerned, supportive, and doing silent partnership.
Vince’s foray into a new business venture via VYNZ-NY Entertainment Production was by Aaron’s convincing. With equal investment the company named Aaron as CEO and Vince, the COO.  Together, after initially partnering in Florante’s concert, they have already produced budgeted but rewarding projects like Marco Sison’s concerts, Geo Ed Rebucas’ NY & NJ shows, and just lately, (with Nel Castellvi), Rico Puno’s intimate concert at Perlas.
“We have bigger plans for the company. We’re line producing JM de Guzman’s Valentine concerts in NY, Las Vegas, and Virginia.  Then there’s the return performances of Geo at Maryann’s on December 20, and at Clarion Hotel in Toms River, NJ on December 27. A Fashion Party Night, (in cooperation with ABCD Entertainment and C.Ayroso Events) is slated at the Astoria World Manor on March 14, 2015 and currently excitedly cooking up the Celebrity Basketball Tournament on the spring of 2015 to be participated in by Gerald Anderson, Rayver Cruz, Enrique Gil, Zanjoe Marudo, Jason Abalos, Matt Evans, JC De Vera, and Joseph Marco,” Vince proudly revealed.
What can he say about Aaron after all that transpired?
“Aaron is lovable…and magnificently charitable… not only to his family but even to friends that need financial help,” the kind-hearted Cancerean (born July 19) candidly discloses. “What lies beyond unfathomed heights are not for us to see but imagine until its rupture.”
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